From Sky Blue FC to the sky blue of Manchester… Karen Bardsley and Carli Lloyd have been reunited.
The pair played together in New Jersey in 2010 and will do so once again for Man City Women, as Nick Cushing’s side prepare their assault on three competitions: the Spring Series, the FA Cup and the Champions League.
The 2016 double-winners shook the footballing world with the capture of FIFA World Player of the Year Carli Lloyd, and Karen Bardsley cannot wait to reconvene with her former teammate…
In KB’s words…
"It’s a really huge moment for Man City but it’s a massive marker for the intent of the league.
"The impact she has had in women’s football and the one she’s going to have in England is huge. She’s going to open up a whole new audience for the Super League.
"I’m really excited to introduce her to the group. She’ll fit in really nicely. She’s a top class professional, she’s ambitious, she wants to win and I think we’ll all be able to take something from having her with us.
"It’s a really monumental occasion for the club and I’m really excited to have her here.
"I think she’ll settle into the English game well. The biggest difference is probably the technical ability of the players here and the tactical awareness of our own team and the opposition. There is a high level of understanding. I think that’s perhaps where the game falls down in the States.
"It’s an extremely physical league out there but a lot of it is ‘front to back’ and not as dynamic in the midfield. That’s hopefully where she’ll shine.
"Admittedly, it’s been a while since I played with her but we’ve played against her at international level in the SheBelieves Cup. Obviously, they had a fantastic World Cup and great Olympic tournaments previously too.
"We crossed paths for Sky Blue in 2010. I remember a pre-season down at Florida State: I was really excited to make my mark on that season and it ended up being one of the best of my career.
"It started out really well – the group had a good dynamic, everyone got on pretty well together, the training sessions were really tough and competitive and everyone had really high expectations. I think a lot of people do in the States and it was nice to see that. At the time, Carli was transitioning into becoming the player she is today. She was in the process of identifying what she wanted to work on and things she wanted to achieve.
"We got on well. I remember: I broke my collarbone at the all-star game and Carli ended up breaking her ankle. We were out together, watching training, and we got talking a little bit. We had some really good conversations and we had a lot of time together.
"On the pitch, she was a good leader in the midfield and a big driver of the things we wanted to achieve, keeping standards high. That will really resonate with us when she arrives.
"When we were playing together, she trained with James Galanis on the side. She was so determined and she was a consummate professional.
"Everyone knew about her before she got the captaincy for the USA and before she scored the hat-trick in the World Cup final. She decided she knew what she wanted and she was going to find out how to get it.
"Of course, she’s a two-time FIFA’s World Player of the Year so she’s going to bring a lot to the team: a ton of experience and plenty of enthusiasm. She’s a box-to-box midfielder but also a goalscoring presence and a leader in front of goal.
"I’m really looking forward to seeing some fantastic goals and I’m expecting some pretty sweet reverse passes into the box and hopefully some finishes. She’ll spread the joy and set up a lot of people because she’s got a good recognition of her strengths and ways to expose the opposition’s weaknesses. We could use a bit more savvy on the pitch.
"She’s going to make everyone around her better for being here and, while she has achieved so much on the international stage, I think it would be great for her to win some domestic titles with us – to keep adding to her collection.
"I’m excited to see what she’s all about technically. I’m looking forward to seeing her take the game by the scruff of the neck!"